Il parle français comme une vache espagnole !
eel parl frah-SAY kuh mewn vah shess-pah-NYUHL! Click below to hear this pronounced.
He speaks French like a Spanish cow.
Let’s be very clear here. I have nothing against Spaniards, cows, or Spanish cows. My goal is not to malign anyone or anything. But the fact remains that this is a very common expression in French, from Paris to Québec.
Why cows? I think that’s obvious. Cows are not known for speaking clearly. They even talk, uh, moo, with their mouths full. Kind of hard to understand.
Why Spaniards? Well, they share a border with France. Haven’t people everywhere always made fun of those on the other side of their borders? When they’re not busy fearing them, that is. Americans and Canadians. Illionoisans and Hoosiers. French and Belgians.
And, Spanish being a related language but one that does not share a lot of phonemes (sounds of speech) with French, it becomes an automatic butt for a Frenchman’s humor.
Consider: the /zh/ sound in French becomes /y/ in the mouth of a Spaniard. The /uh/ sound, spelled eu or oeu, becomes /oo/. The /v/ sound becomes /b/. And so on. All because the poor Spaniard is using Spanish approximations for French sounds and spellings.
So leave the emphasis on the cow, who won’t know whether you’re slandering her or not, and keep it from becoming political; but do your best to see French letters as representing French sounds, not sounds in your own language!
Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.